A young man from Camdenton has been charged with felony tampering with a vessel after allegedly taking a couple of PWCs out for a joy ride Friday evening on Lake of the Ozarks.

Robert Ellis Smith has been charged in Camden County Associated Circuit Court with first degree tampering of a motor boat, a Class D felony; and misdemeanor operating a vessel without a boating safety ID card.

A Missouri State Highway Patrol marine trooper was dispatched to a report of a stolen vessel around 5 p.m. June 1, 2018 at the 3.6 mile marker of the Niangua Arm. According to the probable cause statement filed against Ellis, the 26-year-old was found sitting on the victim’s dock next to the personal watercrafts when the trooper arrived on scene. The PWCs were on the lifts. 

Three witnesses reportedly saw Ellis take the vessels out and drive them around. 

Upon questioning, Ellis allegedly told the trooper he took them out to see what it felt like after someone essentially dared him into it. Ellis reportedly admitted to hot-wiring the PSCs to run them without a lanyard. 

Ellis also allegedly confessed to taking out both PWCs to compare the two. 

The owner of the vessels arrived at the scene later that evening and reportedly found new scratches as well as gouges to the trim with an estimated damage on the two PWCs totaling $1,450.